OK so most of you already know my story, but some of you may not, so here it is in a nutshell up until at this point and time. Nine years ago I got a divorce and found myself a single mom of three weighing over 200 pounds. I pulled from my experience as a professional dancer and choreographer (pre-kiddos) and created an awesome workout called BBX Fitness, lost over 65 pounds in six months and had rapid success with my format. So rapid that I was not prepared for the whirlwind of opportunities thrown my way within the first year and I could not keep up and meet demand. Fast forward eight years later: I encountered what seemed to be an insurmountable barrage of crap in my life that I could not seem to fight my way out of. I am a fighter by nature, but I am also human, and after years of hard work and overcoming a major obstacle, only to be let down after another, I just gave up on being me — the fighter, the fitness buff, the motivator and the entrepreneur. I just plain ole said SCREW IT! So I drank, ate what I wanted and didn’t work out; and during that dark period, I ended up gaining 45 pounds. Yup, sure did!
I have always told people that I am not your regular fitness personality. I am a real person, a single mom of three that has gone and continues to go through the exact problems you face each and every day. I am not perfect, I don’t pretend to be perfect — and to be honest, I don’t want to be! I am sorry, but some of these fitness personalities make exercise and healthy eating their primary focus and, many times, their obsession. Not me! I am a mom first, and I want to live a happy balanced life that includes going out with my kids or friends and enjoying popcorn, pizza or a cocktail every so often. Living life is more important than looking and being perfect. That type of life seems very empty and exhausting to me. But that’s just me. I am sure many people love that life where their motivation comes from how strong and fit they are, but my priorities are in line with most everyday women and I have been and will always continue to be 100% transparent and authentic with you in hopes that my story helps you through your own good and bad times.
OK now that I gave you a speedy run through to catch you up, here I am today. I pulled myself out of that dark place and found myself again. I found the fighter, that girl with a passion and goals. So, knowing that I had to get myself back in shape, I began eating right … again … and exercised daily. Problem is, no matter how hard I worked, the scale would barely budge. At first I thought my scale was broken, because as hard as I was working how could I have only lost five pounds in one month? I mean, really! So I decided to put myself on the same program I put many of my clients on that seemed to work wonders for them. You see, in my thirties, with as much as I worked out, it seemed like I could get away with eating a little more crap than the regular person my age. However, now in my forties, no matter what I did, it didn’t work. And then it hit me … I am over forty!
Holy crap. All those damn stories I heard about weight loss over 40 were true! So after cursing out Mother Nature and crying myself to sleep, I knew I had to do what I do best. Research, figure out the secret and then put it into action.
For those of you in your fabulous forties, here are some facts to keep in mind:
1. Metabolism slows down: As we age, our metabolism does start to slow down. In fact, scientists estimate that it slows down by 5% each decade. Like I said, I've experienced this firsthand. When I was in high school, I could easily polish off an entire pizza singlehandedly without any repercussions. If I were to attempt the same feat now, I'd probably gain 10 pounds overnight and would most likely need to be hospitalized.
2. Loss of muscle mass: You know the saying, “use it or lose it?” That especially applies to your muscles in your forties. With age and lack of use, you lose muscles which (besides helping us look sleek and sculpted) also fire up our metabolism. If you’re not exercising and moving much throughout the day, or if your exercise routine lacks adequate strength or resistance training, then you’re losing muscle that in the past was keeping your metabolism strong. Strength training should become the primary staple of everyone over forty. Yes — more than cardio!
3. Lack of accurate or updated information for people over forty: Anyone who’s telling you that you’re too old to lose weight is either projecting their lack of weight loss success on you or is offering you information that’s simply untrue. For example, years ago we were told that a low fat, high carbohydrate diet was the key to weight loss. That model is perfect … if you want to GAIN weight in your forties. But now, if I have one cup of whole grain pasta or brown rice, it shows up as a whole lotta bulge in my stomach and A**! Personally, I have found that at my age a high fat, moderate protein, and low carb nutritional plan seems to work miracles. Healthy whole grain carbs are important, but aren’t utilized as efficiently as they were when I was in my twenties and thirties. So low carb (preferably from veggies and fruit and/or low whole grains), high (healthy) fat and moderate protein seems to be the magic combination for me and many other women over forty who I have tested. Keto, South Beach, or paleo diet programs seem to be the key in the tests I have conducted!
4. Stress: With age comes wisdom … as well as more tasks, chores, commitments and responsibility. Remember those carefree days of years ago? They may have been replaced with stressors like financial responsibility, raising a family, caring for aging parents and more. Stress floods our bodies with hormones and chemicals that encourage fat storage (particularly around your mid-section). Under stress, our sleep is also impacted which in turn impacts our efforts to lose weight. When we wake up groggy and fatigued after a sleepless night, we may look for immediate energy using caffeine and sugar — a perfect recipe for weight gain. If that weren’t enough, think about this: when you’re stressed, do you really make the healthiest choices? Are you really interested in reading labels, preplanning healthy meals, saying no to the sweets and treats that give momentary pleasure? Or working out for that matter? NO! When we’re under stress, we look to soothe, calm, numb and relax. We self-medicate … food being the drug of choice. So, self-reflect and be aware of your circumstances and the choices you are making that are inhibiting your weight loss goals.
5. Bad habits have more time to be ingrained: While habits may seem hard to break, habits lasting DECADES may seem even harder. Some of the habits that have contributed to your current weight and health have become such a part of your daily lifestyle that you barely notice them. Or the small healthy changes you made in your thirties which worked wonders don’t seem to have the same effect anymore. If that is the case now, in your forties, you will need to take a look at some of your daily habits because what was OK in your twenties and thirties WILL NOT work in your forties … if you haven’t figured that out by now. Just saying …
Is it a million times harder to lose weight in your forties? Yes! Is it impossible? No! Now that you know the facts, you will just need to make some adjustments.
- Say BYE BYE to what worked in your 20's & 30's.
- Eat under 50 grams of healthy carbs a day.
- Eat high (healthy) fats and moderate protein.
- Strength train, strength train, strength train!
- Sleep at least 7-8 hours a night .
- Watch your stress levels.
For me and many of my own clients this seemed the magic combination: more strength training; 50 grams of healthy carbs; 80-100 grams of protein a day; with 60-70% of our food coming from healthy fats. Of course, this will vary based upon your own medical and/or personal needs.
Just keep in mind that things work differently over forty. Muscle matters more and WHAT you eat matters more than ever. All it takes is a slightly different approach than usual. Harder than in your thirties, yes. Impossible and so restrictive that you don’t have a life? No!
Just make the adjustments and find your magic combination.
YOU GOT THIS!